I wish that I could always be proactive in my writing, in other words, write something prior to an event. In this case, I am writing after the fact of two tragic fires that took the lives of two ladies. I have talked about every subject that will be addressed here, but this article will attempt to focus on the particulars of each, as I learned them from news reports. Again, there may be pieces that I miss, or things that I say that may not be the true story in these cases, but my intent is to do whatever it takes to prevent the loss of anyone’s life, in the future, due to fire. I do not write inaccurate things on purpose, and attempt to correct them when I am told of the inaccuracy, but keep in mind that I am not on the list of people that fire investigators call concerning any fire.
In two days time, two ladies were killed in mobile home fires; one in Chesterfield and one in Prince George. Let me speculate for a moment, unless these fires affected you personally, most have forgotten that these two fires occurred within the last two weeks. The first fire occurred in Chesterfield, in what appeared to be a singlewide trailer. The second fire occurred in Prince George, in what looked like a trailer that had undergone reconstruction around the trailer. The online news report was that the trailer in Prince George was a rented property, which changes things a bit. I will take this moment to say that the landlord holds the responsibility of ensuring that an adequate number of properly operating smoke alarms is present.
The news reported that it was unknown whether either of these mobile homes had working smoke alarms. I have gotten in trouble in the past with readers for what I am about to say, but it needs to be said. When there is a lack of evidence of smoke alarms, none normally exist. Let me clarify, seldom did we find no smoke alarms present, but there were numerous times that we found the ones that were present to have dead batteries or the battery had been removed because it was a nuisance. If there were operating smoke alarms, then the case can be made that they were not adequately placed for the location of the fires.
Let me go down another trail. There could have been working smoke alarms, but due to the fires starting close to where both victims were, they were quickly overcome by the smoke, or burned by the fire, to the point that escape was impossible. Both of these fires were early morning fires, where both people were probably asleep at the time of the fires. I have reminded you before that 80-90 percent of fire fatalities occur at night when people are sleeping. As I have said before, I doubt that either one of these ladies went to bed expecting a fire to occur in their homes overnight. The medical examiner will be the one that determines how these two people died. The medical examiner’s findings will tell fire investigators a lot about their proximity to the fires.
The causes of both of these fires will be very difficult to determine, due to the amount of damage to both structures. Something that I have not mentioned is whether or not there was any impairment to either lady that would have made escape more difficult, above and beyond the fire. If one or both ladies were smokers, this would have to be considered as a potential cause. Again, the number of causes is limitless in these situations. We all must do everything possible to ensure that a fire does not occur. We must do a fire safety inspection or at least correct things that show themselves as potential fire hazards. If we can get to the point that we believe that a fire will occur in our home, then we must ensure that we have an adequate number of properly operating smoke alarms, with the best of all worlds being smoke alarms plus a residential sprinkler system, plus a practiced home escape plan – your life and the lives of your family members may depend on it!